Astronews Daily Extended Edition (2455540)

December 9, 2010 12:05 by scibuff

Videos

On December 8, 2010 at 15:43 GMT a Falcon 9 launch vehicle took to the sky from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL as it transported a Dragon Capsule into orbit. Space X's Dragon capsule will demonstrate several objects on this flight, which will include space down and recovery.

This is the Webcast for the Falcon 9 Flight 2 from Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX. The second Falcon 9 rocket launched for SLC-40 in Flordia carrying the first Dragon COTS demo unit

  

Top Stories

Spectacular meteor ‘fireball’ explosion over Britain leaves stargazers buzzing ahead of Geminid space shower – The “very bright” meteor lit up the skies from Somerset to Aberdeen, leaving the astronomy world abuzz. Despite lasting just five seconds, witnesses thought they were watching a rare meteor shower because it was such a dazzling display. -Andrew Hough / The Telegraph

How to Settle, Once and for All, the Whole “What’s a Planet?” Debate – When I was a kid, I knew exactly what a planet was: It was something big and round, and it orbited the sun. There were nine such beasts in the celestial menagerie. We knew Pluto was a misfit—smallish, distant, and orbiting on a weird elliptical path—but we had no doubt it was part of the family. The other planets certainly fit my description, and all was well. –Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

Keck Observatory Pictures Show Fourth Planet in Giant Solar System – Astronomers announced the discovery of a fourth giant planet joining three others orbiting a nearby star with information that challenges our current understanding of planet formation. The dusty young star named HR8799, located 129 light years away, was first recognized in 2008 when the research team presented the first-ever images of a planetary system orbiting a star other than our sun. –Keck Observatory

Stunning ISS View of Volcanos on Earth – What a view! This photograph taken by one of the astronauts on the International Space Station shows several snow-covered volcanoes on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

NASA’s Plan to Save Astrophysics From Space Telescope’s Budget Overruns – The $1.5 billion in cost overruns needed to complete the planned successor to the Hubble Space Telescope had NASA astrophysicists fearing for the future of other projects. But it appears NASA won’t suck funds from other astrophysics research to pay for the telescope. –Wired

WASP-12b: A Carbon Rich Exoplanet – Since its discovery in 2008, WASP-12b has been an unusual planet. This 1.4 Jovian mass, gas giant lies so close to its parent star that gas is being stripped from its atmosphere. But being stripped away isn’t the only odd property of this planet’s atmosphere. A new study has shown that it’s full of carbon. -Jon Voisey / Universe Today

What would happen if the sun went dark – Perhaps you caught the moon last night in the southwestern sky – a thin crescent lit by sunlight. If your timing was right, with the sky not too bright and moon not too low, you may have also seen the entire outline of the moon. –Astrobob

[more stories]

Photos

NGC 6960 - Veil Nebula

NGC 6960 - Veil Nebula

NGC 1499 - California Nebula

NGC 1499 - California Nebula

NGC 2239 - Rosette Nebula

NGC 2239 - Rosette Nebula

M81 and M82

M81 and M82

  
Launch of SpaceX Falcon9

Launch of SpaceX Falcon9

Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9

Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9

Dragon spacecraft

Dragon spacecraft splashdown

Sunspots at Sunrise

Sunspots at Sunrise

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 10:43 a.m. EST, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010. In orbit, the Dragon capsule went through several maneuvers before it re-entered the atmosphere and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean about 500 miles west of the coast of Mexico. This is first demonstration flight for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which will provide cargo flights to the International Space Station in the future. - Credit: NASA/Tony Gray and Kevin O'Connell

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery.

Astronews Daily Extended Edition (2455526)

November 25, 2010 12:53 by scibuff

Videos

Timelapse of Aurora Borealis over Tromso, Norway. Photography: Tor Even Mathisen, Music: Per Wollen, Vocal: Silje Beate Nilssen - Camera: Canon EOS 5D mark II - Lens: Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II

The reins of the International Space Station were passed from Expedition 25 Commander Doug Wheelock to Expedition 26 Commander Scott Kelly in a ceremony aboard the complex Nov. 24. The other station crew members looked on. Wheelock, Shannon Walker and Fyodor Yurchikhin will return to Earth in their Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft Nov. 25 for a parachute-assisted landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan.

  

Top Stories

Discovery’s Launch No Earlier Than Dec. 17 – NASA managers have targeted space shuttle Discovery’s launch for no earlier than Dec. 17. Shuttle managers determined more tests and analysis are needed before proceeding with the STS-133 mission. The launch status meeting planned for Monday, Nov. 29, has been postponed and will be rescheduled. –NASA

The 2010 Shoemaker NEO Grant Recipients – The 2010 Gene Shoemaker Near Earth Object Grants totaled $33,285 (US) and were awarded to six amateur astronomers from four countries –Planetary Society

The Sun Steals Comets from Other Stars – The next time you thrill at the sight of a comet blazing across the night sky, consider this: it’s a stolen pleasure. You’re enjoying the spectacle at the expense of a distant star. Sophisticated computer simulations run by researchers at the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) have exposed the crime. –NASA

Longstanding Cepheid Mass Mystery Finally Solved – Cepheid variable stars – a class of stars that vary in brightness over time – have long been used to help measure distances in our local region of the Universe. Since their discovery in 1784 by John Pigott, further refinements have been made about the relationship between the period of their variability and their luminosity, and Cepheids have been closely studied and monitored by professional and amateur astronomers. -Nicholos Wethington / Universe Today

Stripes Are Back in Season on Jupiter – New NASA images support findings that one of Jupiter’s stripes that “disappeared” last spring is now showing signs of a comeback. These new observations will help scientists better understand the interaction between Jupiter’s winds and cloud chemistry. –NASA/JPL

NASA EPOXI Flyby Reveals New Insights Into Comet Features – NASA’s EPOXI mission spacecraft successfully flew past comet Hartley 2 on Thursday, Nov. 4. Scientists say initial images from the flyby provide new information about the comet’s volume and material spewing from its surface. –NASA/JPL

Cassini Back to Normal, Ready for Enceladus – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft resumed normal operations today, Nov. 24. All science instruments have been turned back on, the spacecraft is properly configured and Cassini is in good health. Mission managers expect to get a full stream of data during next week’s flyby of the Saturnian moon Enceladus. –NASA/JPL

Near-Earth asteroid (NEA) 162173 (1999 JU3) is a potential flyby and rendezvous target for interplanetary missions – Near-Earth asteroid 162173 (1999 JU3) is a potential flyby and rendezvous target for interplanetary missions because of its easy to reach orbit. The physical and thermal properties of the asteroid are relevant for establishing the scientific mission goals and also important in the context of near-Earth object studies in general. Our goal was to derive key physical parameters such as shape, spin-vector, size, geometric albedo, and surface properties of 162173 (1999 JU3). – arxiv.org

[more stories]

Photos

Jupiter

Jupiter

M42 - Orion Nebula

M42 - Orion Nebula

M31 - Andromeda Galaxy

M31 - Andromeda Galaxy

Sunrise at KSC

Sunrise at KSC

  
IC 1805 - Heart Nebula

IC 1805 - Heart Nebula

M81 and M82

M81 and M82

NGC6334 Cat's Paw Nebula

NGC6334 Cat's Paw Nebula

Moon

Moon

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

Centaurus A and Omega Centauri

Centaurus A and Omega Centauri - A large field image of one of the most popular couples of the southern sky. The dark skies and the long exposure permit to see lots of dust in the whole area. Pentax 67 lens SMCP 300 mm ED(IF) @ f4 + Paramount ME, 280 mins LRGB exposure with a FLI Proline 16803. - Credit: Marco Lorenzi

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery.

Galactic Cirrus between M81 and M82

February 15, 2010 11:56 by scibuff

The image below portraits two galaxies known as M81 (NGC 3031 or Bode’s Galaxy) and M82 (NGC 3034 or the Cigar Galaxy). M81 is one of the most striking examples of a grand design spiral galaxy, with near perfect arms spiraling into the very center. M82 is five times as bright as the whole Milky Way and one hundred times as bright as our galaxy’s center. Tidal forces caused by gravity have deformed this galaxy, a process that started about 100 million years ago. The interaction between the galaxies has caused star formation in M82 to increase 10 fold compared to “normal” galaxies.

M81 and M82

170 minute black and white image of M81 and M82 - Credit: Lightbuckets.com

The inverted image (below) reveals much more that meets the eye. The wispy tendrils seen in the inverted and stretched image are known as Galactic Cirrus. They are high galactic latitude nebulae that are illuminated not by a single star (as most nebula in the plane of the Galaxy are) but by the energy from the integrated flux of all the stars in the Milky Way.  These nebulae clouds, an important component of the Interstellar Medium, are composed of dust particles, hydrogen and carbon monoxide and other elements.

Inverted image of M81 and M82 showing the Galactic Cirrus between the galaxies

Inverted image of M81 and M82 showing the Galactic Cirrus between the galaxies - Credit: Lightbuckets.com

Galactic Cirrus was first found in plates in the Palomar Sky Survey in the mid 1960’s. Alan Sandage investigated them further in 1975 while working with the Palomar 1.2m Schmidt Telescope. The surface brightness of these structures is about 25 mag. or even fainter, which makes them extremely hard to capture with most amateur equipment.

The galaxy group, consisting of M81, M82, NGC 3077 and NGC 2976, is the nearest galaxy group to our own local group (which contains the Milky Way, Magellanic Clouds, M33, and the M31 – M32 – M110 system). At 12 million light years distance, the nearby proximity of galaxies M81 and M82 makes them one of the most spectacular sights in the spring sky.

– The images used in this post have been taken by Alvin Jeng during a test run of the Lightbuckets’ LB0002 – a 0.2m Newtonian Astrograph.